Developer: MassHive Media
Publisher: MassHive Media
From MassHive Media comes a Fantasy RPG with entirely hand-drawn environments. Based in Bandung, Indonesia, MassHive Media has only developed mobile games up until now. They’re an independent developer whose goal is to be one of the leading developers in South East Asia. From mobile games to a complete one, Azure Saga: Pathfinder has great things about it and others not so great. While it has lush and interactive environments, in many ways, it feels a bit like a mobile game, in terms of animations or the lack thereof. Despite minor setbacks, Pathfinder is a giant step in the right direction, glimpsing a promising future for the indie developer.
Violence: Azure Saga: Pathfinder is a game that mainly consists of battling monsters, animals, and whatever else happens to be attacking you. While it is not too graphic, there is a bit of blood spatter after some sword or gun attacks, but nothing gory or excessive. Overall, battles consist of striking an enemy with a sword, shooting them with a gun or casting spells.
Sexual Content: The only thing noteworthy in this category is the dress choice of one of your companions. Her dress is very revealing around the bosom area, which is immoderate and a bit strange. She is the only character I encountered dressed like this.
Azure Saga: Pathfinder is a quaint little game that’s like any other classic RPG adventure. It excels in art and navigation through beautifully hand-drawn environments. There is a decent battling system that incorporates mechanics reminiscent of Chrono Trigger. It has a decent story and characters, but I found that the one place it seemed to be lacking were the character animations during battles. And yet, overall, Pathfinder is a great game, especially for its price.
One word comes to mind about Pathfinder and that is “simple.” The story, the battle mechanics, the world map, the navigation, and the animations of the characters all feel rather simple. Even the enemy battles are somewhat simple in that the game tells you the weaknesses of your enemies, making it easy to choose the right attack for the right enemy. As I mentioned before, the animations are lacking, in that it almost feels like a mobile game. While simplicity is not frowned upon in games, RPGs usually have degrees of complexity and are lauded for it.
Having said that, the battling system is good and has all the basics, including skills for each character, the ability to guard, and using items. On top of that, every enemy has a weakness to a certain characters ability, which can be scanned for using your little ally robot. Using it doesn’t take up an action, so it comes in handy as a free reminder. One can then follow up that information with the proper skill. Skills do take up MP, so use them wisely. There is also an auto attack mode, of which is best to use if the player wants to speed through an easy battle.
Another great battling mechanic is the use of Unity attacks. These moves are basically a coordinated attack using all three heroes. They are not listed and must be discovered using the right combination of attacks. Once found, you can select them from an available list. These come in handy when in a pinch or when dealing with a boss. But be wary, all three heroes must have enough MP to execute their part of the Unity attack or it cannot be done. This mechanic reminds me of Chrono Trigger, where something very similar was used – which isn’t a bad thing, since it was a great mechanic and worked well as it does in Pathfinder.
The story sparks interest, but is not very clear. It’s the classic story of two companions who find themselves in an unknown land and are now forced to explore it to find a way back to where they came from. While there, they become involved in the affairs of the inhabitants and have an adventure. One thing I wished for the story is for more backstory. You’re thrown into a story that you know little about what’s going on and you’re forced to go along with it. Another thing is that the characters aren’t that believable, but some have interesting backgrounds. Pathfinder isn’t boring; it just needs more solid writing.
The environments are the best part about the game, going from lush forests to underground mines filled with shiny riches. Everything really is hand drawn and it looks great. The navigation can be a bit glitchy and abrupt, but still looks nice regardless. The only thing I have trouble with is the animations of characters during battle. They look like puppets on strings, lifeless and with little action or reaction. It reminds me of short, quick animations in mobile games and can sometimes be a bit cringe worthy to watch.
Another area I found Pathfinder lacking in isthe dialogue. There are a lot of spelling errors and at times I felt that the developers could have taken the extra time to figure out simple translation. While the game itself is good, bad translation or grammar can come off as sloppy and unprofessional.
One final critique I have is of the side missions. Some require the player to go kill a certain amount of a specific monster and others are fetch missions. On fetch missions, if you find an item before acquiring the quest, you will not be able to pick up the item. I feel like this is a silly waste of time. I wish the side missions had more depth than an NPC asking for you retrieve his lost seeds or for you to kill 3 rats in the area.
In the end, Azure Saga: Pathfinder is a good step for MassHive if they want to continue making complete RPG games. While it has its disappointments, it’s entertaining and fun to play. It definitely cures an RPG craving and is great for anyone looking for something different. Having said that, one playthrough is enough. For $12.99, it’s a steal and well worth the money.
Review code generously provided by Novy PR
The Bottom Line
Despite its unfavorable aspects, Azure Saga: Pathfinder is a giant step for MassHive in the right direction and is encouraging to see what else they can bring to the table.